What Is The Difference Between Identity Theft And Identity Fraud – Identity theft occurs when criminals steal a victim’s personal information to commit criminal acts. By using this stolen information, a criminal takes over the victim’s identity and conducts a range of fraudulent activities in their name.
Cyber criminals commit identity theft using sophisticated cyber attack tactics, including social engineering, phishing and malware. Identity theft can also occur through basic tactics with criminals stealing mail, digging through dumpsters, and listening to phone conversations in public places.
What Is The Difference Between Identity Theft And Identity Fraud
The ultimate goal of many cyber attacks is to steal enough information about a victim to assume their identity in order to commit fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, most people only find out they are victims of identity theft when they apply for a loan, try to open a bank account, apply for a job, get a call from collection agency, or request a new credit card.
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Cybercriminals prey on corporations, schools, government agencies, hospitals and other institutions that hold employees’ personal information. Because of this, identity theft is very damaging. Cybercriminals hope that an employee with access to personal information will click on a link in a phishing email, opening up access to databases of personal and financial information.
The damage caused by identity theft has a ripple effect, causing personal and emotional trauma to the person who accidentally gives the cybercriminal access to data. There are also serious consequences for the people whose personal information is stolen and the reputation of the organization is compromised.
There are generally three types of identity thieves: financial, medical and online. These are categorized by the platform that cyber criminals use your stolen information on.
Financial identity theft is a type of scam where the attacker uses your personal information to take over your financial accounts, such as credit cards, bank accounts, and social security number.
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In medical identity theft, a cybercriminal uses your health insurance information to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, and file claims against your health insurance provider.
Online identity theft refers to the attacker’s use of online platforms to steal identities and commit online fraud. This can range from attacks on a user’s social media account or an e-commerce platform.
Identity theft is a global threat. Many governments have programs in place to help their citizens report identity theft and establish a recovery plan:
A recent IBM report reveals that, on average, a data breach resulting in identity theft costs the breached organization $4.35 million. It usually takes 277 days to notice that a data breach has occurred.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Because identity theft is so serious, it is important that every employee in your organization knows how to identify themselves and protect themselves from this threat. This starts with a strong training system that aims to foster a culture of cyber security awareness.
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Identity theft and social engineering are closely intertwined. In fact, the latter is a way to commit identity theft and trick people into revealing important information.
Social engineering, which is the act of manipulating people into giving up secret information, relies on the basic human instinct of trust, greed, curiosity and desire. And when it is used for ulterior motives, it can quickly result in sharing information that puts someone at risk.
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1. Social engineering by email, text, or phone message. All it takes is one file downloaded or link clicked in an email or text message to open a gateway to sensitive information.
2. Installing malware such as spyware or keyloggers on the network. Criminals use spyware and keyloggers to track your keyboard and online activity to capture passwords, usernames and other sensitive information.
3. Research social network sites for personal information, email addresses, employee connections, recent conferences, promotions, etc. Cyber criminals use this information to link themselves and inform their emails, texts, social media messages, or phone messages – convincing victims to respond.
4. Hacking computers and databases through a variety of tactics. From fake websites used to steal passwords, attachments that install ransomware, vulnerabilities in systems, or fake wi-fi access points that give access to personal information – cybercriminals have a deep range of hacking tactics.
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5. Interrupting telephone conversations in public places, the lobby of the office building, the bus, etc.
6. Retrieving paper documents from mailboxes, recycling bins, or trash cans and using this information to conduct identity theft or additional cyber attacks such as spear phishing or business email compromise.
7. Creating fake online profiles that convince employees who do their due diligence on an unknown caller or email sender that the person is legitimate and can be trusted.
As of 2023, there were 1.4 million FTC reports of identity theft, with an estimated total loss of $10.2 billion.
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Millennials age 30-39 are the most common victim of identity theft. However, there have been several cases involving loans and lines of credit in the name of 8-year-old children, which cost families $1 billion a year.
To protect your employees and your organization from identity theft, remind your employees of these cybersecurity best practices:
1. Do not provide personal or confidential corporate information over the phone or on a website unless you are sure of the recipient’s credibility.
2. Make sure that websites hosting online forms use https:// and have a green lock icon in the URL field. This prefix indicates that the website is secure.
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3. Choose strong passwords to protect access to your online accounts and change your passwords regularly. When possible, enable two-factor authentication.
4. Limit the amount of personal information you share on social networks. Cybercriminals use sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn details about you and your employer and use this to trick you into trusting them.
6. Safely dispose of and shred documents containing personal, company and confidential information. Do not store these documents in an easily accessible place.
7. Always confirm caller ID before providing information over the phone. Don’t be shy about asking the caller multiple questions to confirm their identity.
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8. When in doubt, delete the email or text message and do not answer phone calls from unknown numbers and callers.
10. Do not give your date of birth, mailing address, maiden name, salary, or academic credentials to unwanted callers, texters or e-mailers.
A phishing simulation is key to raising awareness of how identity theft occurs. Phishing is one of the main cyber attack tactics used by cyber criminals to gain access to personal and confidential information.
Phishing simulations help you monitor phishing tactics and identify employees at risk of cybercrime that relies on social engineering.
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Real-time phishing simulations are a quick and effective way to educate people and increase levels of awareness of phishing and other cyber attack tactics. People see firsthand how their actions can put them at risk for identity theft and identity fraud.
Your employees are your organization’s first line of defense against data breaches and hacks, identity theft and identity fraud.
Phishing simulations are critical to equipping employees with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify cyber attack tactics and protect themselves and their organization from identity theft.
6. To make people aware of how easy it is to be tricked into providing personal and confidential information.
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1. Delayed arrival of bills and financial statements. This type of delay could indicate that cybercriminals have changed your account’s mailing address or are stealing from your mailbox.
2. Unexpected calls from creditors about fees and unpaid balances on current accounts or accounts and charges you have not made.
3. Confirmation of a new account from a bank, credit card company, or online business you are not associated with.
There is no limit to what cybercriminals will do with your stolen identity. Always verify bank, credit card and utility statements for unusual charges and activities.
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If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, number one – don’t worry. Cybercriminals are looking for signs that you are panicking and may contact you pretending to be an agency that can help you recover from identity theft.
Do not contact any unauthorized providers who claim they can help you resolve the issue. Instead, if you are a victim of identity theft:
To learn more about identity theft and how you can protect your organization and people, take advantage of these cybersecurity awareness resources: Identity fraud losses in 2020 totaled $56 billion (USD). This figure represents a grand total of $13 billion for traditional identity fraud (down 21% from 2019) and $43 billion for identity fraud scams. This rampant growth can be attributed to criminals increasingly targeting consumers directly with scams to gain easy access to a cache of personally identifiable information (PII) that enables them to assume a consumer’s identity. It is important to distinguish between the two emerging types of identity fraud attack vectors that criminals have used in 2020 and will likely continue to use.
The main findings of the annual report show a significant increase in identity fraud scams and loan fraud. Identity fraud has evolved rapidly through unique societal changes related to innovation, the worldwide Covid-19 Pandemic, and criminal tactics targeting both corporate and consumer targets.
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